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Lobbyists Rebrand Themselves Consultants, Evade Campaign Finance Laws

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Honest Leadership and Open Government Act is no match for determined lobbyists.

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To gain access to members of the Oklahoma Senate and Congressional delegation and staff, all one needed to do was write a check and RSVP to someone named Amy Ford Bradley at what appears to be a personal email address -- just a friendly, down-home gathering of a few like-minded Oklahomans in the Florida sun, right?

Not really.

"Boots on the Bay" was organized by a group called GOP Convention Strategies. The company describes its mission as one that aims to "help our clients get the most bang for their convention buck."

Those clients, as listed on GOP Convention Strategies' website, include (among many others) Koch Industries, Fox (NWS), Monsanto (MON), Ford (F), and Verizon (VZ). And, "Whether your goal is to connect with important decision makers, get the voters and the media to focus on your agenda, or simply to host a great event," GOP Convention Strategies says they will "help you maximize the impact of your investment."

So, Are They Lobbyists?

Depends on your definition of "lobbyist."

Darrell Henry co-founded GOP Convention Strategies in 2008, the year the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act went into effect. However, GOP Convention Strategies is not registered as being engaged in lobbying activities. With that in mind, Henry's bio explains that he "also operates ROQ Strategies, an advocacy, government relations, and public affairs firm based in Washington, DC, which focuses on agricultural, emergency preparedness, energy, environmental, natural resource, transportation, and utility policy issues and coalition building." He also "spent seven years as the Director of Public Affairs at the American Gas Association, where he earned his place as a key player in major federal energy policy development," is "a former Chairman of the National Energy Resource Organization," and served on the staffs of three Republican politicians.

While all of these activities certainly sound like lobbying, only one thing actually makes Darrell Henry a lobbyist -- this:

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